Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Slavemakers II

OK, so you think my last post was a bit over the top regarding corporations? Here's some more grist for the mill....

We have reached the point where universities are not so much engaged in the business of education as they are in the endless quest for grant funding in support of research. Our society doesn't provide adequate funding for higher education, requiring professors and departments to spend a significant portion of their time and energy pursuing grants. Where do grants come from? The public sector used to be the major player in this regard, though that role is decreasing as concern about deficits and refusal to hike taxes hold sway on Capitol Hill. So what gets funded? Whatever the major grantors wish. Who are the major granting bodies?

Here's a fun example: Writer Michael Pollan documents the establishment of a major research effort at the University of California-Davis investigating the significant presence of antioxidants in chocolate. The grant is funded by the Hersheys Corporation.

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It isn't bad enough that corporations are defined to be "persons" in our political process. The money contributed by corporations is now deemed to be speech. Thus there can be no limit on what corporations spend making the case for their issues or candidates. This fact, hand in hand with corporate lobbying and the revolving door between government and the private sector.... Are you paying attention?

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Budget deficits, no new taxes and the desire to privatize financial support for nonprofits means that funding for efforts to serve the poor and oppressed in our society must come from the corporations that most benefit from the status quo. Note the incursion of commercials on "Public" television. A little charity is OK now and then, but any organization that advocates systemic change or attempts to talk about the root causes of social ills in society?

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We don't really need healthcare reform in the U.S., and especially not a single payer system. The market can handle this just fine. For example, don't you love the way the market handles the development and promotion of pharmaceuticals? Ask your doctor how they feel about patients pressuring them to prescribe drugs for conditions they don't exhibit. Ask your doctor how much support they receive from Big Pharma in the form of gifts and benefits as they are working their way through medical school and beyond. Go ahead, ask your doctor, if you can get in to see one.

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My kids tried to get me interested in Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash, set in a world where the federal government had ceded most of its power to private corporations and entrepreneurs. It no longer seems like fiction. David Korten wrote an evocative book with the eye-catching title, When Corporations Rule the World. I now wonder what he meant by using the word "When".

Let's keep on shopping, serving, and defending our benevolent keepers. Let's proudly wear their logos on our hats and t-shirts, and enjoy the game or the concert in the beautiful venues to which they have been granted naming rights. Corporations are truly benevolent, after all, providing us with salaries, job security, health benefits and pensions we can depend on, right? And they provide economic benefit to the community and protect the environment, right? After all, they live here too, right? Right?

1 comment:

  1. Oh my goodness..."when"? I think that we are already ruled by corporations. Is there a way out?